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Mpls. Charter School Could Close After Losing Sponsor

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(credit: CBS) Reg Chapman
Reg Chapman joined WCCO-TV in May of 2009. He came to WCCO fr...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Emily O. Goodridge-Grey Accelerated Charter School has been told its main source of funding won’t be renewed.

The Minneapolis school is home to some of the area’s poorest children and at one time was considered one of the most improved charter schools in the state.

But in Minnesota, each charter school needs an authorizer to sponsor the school.

The Audubon Center of the North Woods is Emily Grey’s authorizer and the center decided to go through the process to not renew their contract.

Emily Grey teachers and staff say they’ll fight to keep this school that is making a difference in the lives of the children it serves.

In the middle of the Twin Cities industrial area, dedicated teachers and parents are trying to deliver a first rate education.

“Emily Grey is a nurturing environment,” parent Julie Bratton said.

Bratton has a fourth grader, Elijah, and two grandchildren at the school.

Bratton says the changes helped her child, who now loves to learn and is excelling at Emily Grey.

“We redesigned the entire curriculum,” said Denise Eastman.

Eastman joined the staff in November, when the school was under-performing to state requirements.

“We took the math curriculum that was currently in use it and was not aligned to state standards — so we aligned it,” she said.

She made sure teachers are teaching every single bench mark, so kids can do well when tested in May.

“We’re in the top 2 percent of all schools in the state of Minnesota with a high poverty rate,” said Emily Grey director Dimitri Russell.

Russell says the school is 75 percent black, 20 percent East African and 5 percent white.

“We were considered a high-growth school by the state of Minnesota, which means we were at the 77 percentile, which meant only 23 percent of the schools had a higher growth rate and test scores than what we had,” Russell said.

That changed when they moved into a new building, and added 110 students. And many of those 110 needed special education, or English as a second language classes.

Russel believes this is what helped the numbers slide, but with a new plan and great parental support, he hopes to keep Emily Grey focused on educating children.

Audubon Center of the North Woods says Emily Grey is in the bottom 5 percent of all schools tested, adding that there were academic expectations tied to the contract and that the school did not meet them.

The termination hearing for Emily Grey is set for one week from today.

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